Statutory home care scheme is two years away

It will be another two years before a new Fair Deal-type scheme for people in their own homes is up and running, it has emerged.

The minister of state with responsibility for older people, Jim Daly, defended the timescale yesterday, saying he wanted to develop a statutory home care scheme from scratch.

“The current system isn’t fit for purpose as far as I am concerned. It certainly won’t be fit for purpose into the future and people will not be satisfied with the existing arrangement,” he said. 

“So the choice is to try and patch it piece by piece or actually redesign and reorganise it from scratch and that’s what I have undertaken to do since becoming minister over 12 months ago.”

 

Mr Daly was speaking after launching the report on the findings of the Department of Health’s public consultation on home care services.

More than 2,600 people and interested bodies took part in the two-month consultation process last summer and most agreed with the Government’s proposal that home care needs to be placed on a statutory basis.

Mr Daly said there would be further engagement by the department with a number of different bodies that were interested in the area of home care at the end of the year.

He expected it would be two to three years before the new home care scheme was up and running. 

“We are about nine months into that process,” he pointed out.

Mr Daly said home care services must be improved to better meet the needs of people and they must be put on the statute to ensure everyone had equal access to them.

He said it was not possible to transfer payments made under the nursing home support scheme, Fair Deal, to home care.

Mr Daly said Fair Deal was already in the statute. It was a good scheme, by and large, and they did not want to start tinkering around the edges of that.

He felt that timeline of two to three years before a new home care system was ambitious and could be achieved. Pointing out that it took seven to eight years before Fair Deal was brought from conception to reality.

Most of the submissions came from individuals; most (82%) were women and those in the 40 to 59 age range accounted for the greatest proportion of respondents.

More than half (55%) of those who took part did not believe that home care services worked well with hospitals.

Almost nine out of 10 (87%) felt that people in receipt of home care should be able to choose who provided their care.

More than half (57%) supported the introduction of means-tested user contributions for home care services and most (61%) would be prepared to purchase additional hours of home care if they needed them.

There was also broad support for the Government’s proposal to create a new regulatory environment for home care.

The managing director of Home Care Direct, Michael Harty, welcomed the move to establish a statutory scheme for home care but was disappointed that no solution was presented to deal with existing demand for the service.

Mr Harty called for immediate action to address the major capacity issue that currently exists in the sector.

Home Care Direct provides a platform for people to make direct contact with carers in their area.

Mr Harty said the best way to make caring a more attractive career was to pay carers more and ensure that more funds found their way directly to them.



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